Tragopogon dubius - Western Salsify

Asteraceae



This plant is commonly seen in roadside ditches and on the edges of fields.  As far as I can tell, it is not a major weed problem in cultivated nursery fields.  Therefore,  I only include it on this website for thoroughness.

The image below demonstrates its typical habit.  Plants grow upright 1 to 2 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide.  

Tragopogon dubius - Western Salsify



Foliage is grass-like.  Notice in the image below how the plant seems to blend in with the grass.

Tragopogon dubius - Western Salsify

Foliage often has a blue-green tint.  Leaves are generally more broad than what would be expected for most grasses.

Tragopogon dubius - Western Salsify

The image below demonstrates a key identification characteristic.  The cross section of the plant's foliage is triangular, and when torn the plant emits a milky sap.

Tragopogon dubius - Western Salsify





Tragopogon dubius - Western Salsify

Sepals are key identification characteristic for this plant.  While not obvious in the image above, sepals are generally wider than the yellow ray flowers.

Notice the swollen receptacle beneath the flower head below.  This is a characteristic used to distinguish it from T. pratensis.

Tragopogon dubius - Western Salsify

Flowers are generally only open on the mornings of sunny days, and will close by noon (don't set your clocks by this phenomena, it's not that predictable).

Tragopogon dubius - Western Salsify


The generic name Tragopogon is derived from the Greek language where Tragos means goat and pogon means beard.  Thus Tragopogon, or goat beard, was applied due to the plant's large feathery seed heads.  

western salsify seed head

Seed heads are dandelion-like, but much larger and tan in color.

western salsify seedheads

Dismantling the seed head reveals the very large and coarse textured seed.

western salsify seed



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